Interiors: Dream beds - a €14k child's fairy tale bed and more
From the magical to the functional, the sky's the limit when it comes to kids' sleeping arrangements
Children have always loved to dream about magical beds. Back in the 1960s, Bernard Share wrote a series of children's books about a flying bed called The Bed That Went WHOOSH! The bed travelled through space and time with a small boy and his toy companions on board. The books, now sadly out of print, were beautifully illustrated by William Bolger.
Back then, children had to make do with an ordinary bed, a good story and lashings of imagination. Now, they can snuggle down in a bed that looks as though it came from a fantasy world. Some of these also come with fantasy prices. The Little Mermaid Bed from Circu Magical Furniture is made in the shape of a giant clam shell so that your little princess can nestle inside the interior-lit fibreglass seashell like a pearl. You'd need a royal income to buy it though - it costs €14,610.
In the same range, the wonderful but exorbitant Bun Van Bed is made in the shape of a VW camper van. The interior is in high quality wood veneer with storage compartments, a bed, a television, a desk, a sofa and a mini bar. Yes, really. If I remember rightly, the fictional child in The Bed That Went WHOOSH! travelled with three toffees under his pillow in case he got hungry. The Bun Van Bed costs €39,000. It's a great concept, but I'd recommend waiting for someone to design a more affordable version. Or buy a real camper van for the price.
One way of creating a great fantasy bed is to look at what's happening at the high end and see what you can do to create the look yourself at home. The Luigina bed from the high-end Italian company New Design Porte looks like something out of a fairy tale. It's a fancy canopy bed with rosebud trellis and flowing muslin drapes. The Vipak Amori single bed with canopy (€520 from the Jelly Bean Group in Cork) is a much plainer version of the same idea. Add some rosebuds and ribbons and you could have a bed that looks very like the Luigina for a fraction of the price.
"Don't rush into buying a look," says Marie O'Donovan of Jelly Bean, a Cork-based company that specialises in children's furniture. "Take time to see what you need from a practical point of view and start with the basics - a bed and a bedside locker. If you get something from a good solid range, you can add to it later on."
Novelty beds, in her opinion, have a limited appeal. "I'm sick of looking at Frozen beds. You can get them everywhere but they can be very expensive. How long do you really get out of them? I think they're a temporary buy. I'd like to see our shop as somewhere to take you away from novelty."
If you must, Littlewoods Ireland has a Disney Frozen sleigh bed (€419 to €529). But if your five-year-old daughter is clamouring for something from the latest Disney franchise, it would be much cheaper to buy her some novelty bed linen and invest in a bed that she's still going to like when she's 15.
According to O'Donovan, most people spend around €300 on a bed for their first child, often choosing a simple solid single like the Vipak Amori (€290). "It's a fabulous bed for the money," says O'Donovan, who finds beds that retail for less than €200 tend to wobble or creak.
"I have to be able to stand over the quality of the beds that I sell and I've yet to find my €180 bed!"
If your budget for a child's bed is less than €200, you're probably heading for Ikea where the plain Flaxa bed frame costs €109. The trick with Ikea beds, in my opinion, is to get someone who really knows what they're doing to put them together. They may not last a lifetime, but they will last much longer than if they're constructed by an unskilled person.
Despite the huge range of high-sleepers and mid-sleepers on the market, the best seller at Jelly Bean is still the traditional bunk bed. "Irish people love their bunks," says O'Donovan. "They're a very practical option."
The Stompa classic bunk bed (€549) is a popular purchase, but there are also some gorgeous bunks from Bed Systems (from €1,500).
The beds are offset, rather than stacked top of each other, and the units include storage. They take up a fair bit of space, but once installed, they're the sort of bed that wouldn't embarrass a teenager.
High-sleepers are almost as popular as bunks and work well in small spaces. "You can't add more square footage to the box room," says O'Donovan. "Often the best solution is to elevate the bed."
The Stompa Uno 5 High Sleeper (€920) has a raised bed over a desk with a comfortable chair that doubles as a pull-out bed for sleepovers.
For very small spaces, the Nidi range from Battistella includes a wall bed called the Twiddly (the drop-down bed is concealed behind a desk). The Tippy, also from Battistella, looks like a high-sleeper with bunk above and desk below, but the desk can be pulled down to reveal a second bed behind it. It's a beautiful piece of furniture - you don't even need to move your belongings off the desk - and costs £2,375 (€2,747) from Go Modern Furniture in the UK.
The flip side of this (no pun intended) is that you're paying for cool design and quality engineering. It's not a gimmick. And kids love Transformers.
For more information, see jellybeangroup.com, nidi.it, gomodern.co.uk, newdesignporte.com, circu.net.